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Posts Tagged ‘Coronavirus’

Close up shot of Mini Schnauzer Little Bear

I don’t know about you, but the last few weeks have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

I’ve been furious, terrified, pragmatic, determined and a complete blubbering mess eating Lotus spread off a spoon and crying onto my keyboard.

There’s no linearity to it, just a tempest of emotion roiling up, having its moment then disappearing again.

The dogs hate it when I cry. Annie pushes her head into my knees and demands cuddles while Little Bear just jumps on me and barks furiously. If I’m sitting down, he barks and whines in my face and licks my nose and cheeks until I get a grip, which of course I do far more quickly than if I’d been permitted to wallow.

While I’d love to think that Bear was trying to make me feel better, it’s more likely that as his primary care-giver, my distress was just making him anxious about his own safety. Either way, I hate upsetting him and so his technique, such that it is, works every time.

Vulnerability 

I’ve written before about how my dogs have kept me sane, but so much of their power is actually in their vulnerability. Our dogs are so totally and utterly dependent on us that, even when the world feels like it’s ending, we have to be there for them physically and emotionally.

In return, they remind us that there is a world beyond ourselves. They ground us in the here and now and most importantly, show us that there is still joy in the world. It’s impossible not to smile watching Little Bear playing football by himself of an evening, or getting ‘toy-giddy’ when I tip a whole basket of teddies on to the floor for him. He met a sweet little terrier on our walk yesterday and, even though they had less than a minute to play together, he ran back to us beaming.

These are scary times, but they’d be an awful lot worse without our dogs at our sides.

However and wherever you are in the world, we’re sending you and your fur babies love, strength and healing thoughts. And of course, Bear sends woofs. xxx 

 

A few of my favourite photos – just because they make me feel better.

 

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Mini Schnauzer dog Bear sitting on the pavement next to a chalk drawing of a rainbow and the word 'Smile'

Little Bear posing next to the chalk art rainbows that kids have been drawing around the neighbourhood

While walking Bear yesterday at our local park, it dawned on me that we’ve been social distancing for years.

When you have a reactive dog, you quickly learn about distances. Keeping your dog(s) sub-threshold usually means keeping enough space between them and whatever scares them (with our two, it’s other dogs) to ensure they feel safe.

After close to a decade of training, we’ve shrunk the distance down from the width of a football pitch to around four metres. With that much space, a little encouragement and the promise of a biscuit, they’ll usually walk past without kicking off.  Much closer and they’re likely, even aged twelve and thirteen, to have a mini-meltdown of barking and lunging.

I need space 

While things have improved over the years, in part thanks to the excellent, ‘Yellow Dog’campaign of wearables and education, there are still those who don’t seem to get why you might need a little extra space. Bear has an ‘I need space’ lead wrap and for a long time, I even wore a fluorescent bib on walks emblazoned on both sides with ‘Reactive dog in training, please give us space,’ but even that wasn’t fool-proof.

Some people just don’t seem to accept the fact that not all dogs are as placid and calm as theirs. Others I’m sure are driven by the mistaken belief that their superior dog-handling skills could solve the problem in two minutes flat if only you’d hand over the lead.

I’m used to the odd looks we get as we detour through shrubbery, turn tail and retrace our steps on narrow paths and generally deploy the raft of avoidance techniques we’ve had more than a decade to perfect. Not everyone is kind and I’ve also had more than my fair share of abuse over the years from clueless dog owners who’ve allowed their off-lead dogs to corner my on-lead ones.

So I was tickled yesterday when, doing what we always do, people waved, gave us the thumbs up and said thanks for giving them space. Perspective is a curious thing, isn’t it?

Stay safe and well everyone. xx

 

 

 

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